Wednesday, January 17, 2007

'People ride bikes because it's cheaper'

The Jakarta Post, January 17, 2007

The Jakarta Police have claimed that relegating motorcycles to the slow lane has reduced the risk of traffic accidents in the city. The Jakarta Post asked some people what they thought about the issue.

Diman K Simanjuntak, 31, works for a non-governmental organization in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. He lives in Depok:

As far as I can gather from the news, the implementation of the keep-left rule has significantly reduced the number of accidents involving motorbikes in the city -- though I am also aware that the regulation conflicts with a higher law.

Regarding the plan to limit the number of motorcycles on main thoroughfares during peak hours, I think it will cost motorists more and not solve the problem. It must be remembered that the transportation systems of developed and developing countries are inherently different.

Road rules in developed country only allow certain vehicles on certain roads. This is only possible if the infrastructure is in place and the people in general are not impoverished.

If not, the poor will bear the burden of high cost transportation because they have to pay more for fuel. The government must realize that people get around on motorcycles because it is cheaper -- not because it's more fun. In bringing in new road rules, the government must calculate the cost for the people.

Furthermore, motorcycles are not the only source of traffic woes here. The city needs to put greater emphasis on law enforcement and less on improving the public transportation system.

For example, rather than banning motorcycles on certain roads during peak hours, the government could enforce the law requiring buses to stop only at designated passenger stops. This would also mean that more bus stops were needed.

That might be the hardest part of the effort but it is fundamental, because people can easily bribe their way out of a situation. For the wealthy, a Rp 50,000 bribe is peanuts.

Yoyarib Mau works for a media company in Salemba, Central Jakarta. He lives in the area:
It seems to me that these regulation were made to discourage people from using motorcycles and get them to use public transportation, which is not always reliable -- or even affordable. It is clear the government is siding with businesses and not with people.

Motorcycles are not the only cause of traffic jams. Tens of thousands of cars are also on the road on any given day.

There should be a regulation limiting the number of cars imported or produced in Indonesia and also the number of cars owned by a family. Do not just make the three-in-one regulation, which, for me, does not address the problem.

Also the government needs to enforce the regulation on emissions tests, not only to reduce air pollution but also to limit the number of cars in the city.

-The Jakarta Post

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